Monday, July 30, 2012

What You Callin' 'Easy'?

Remover applied
I've always wanted ceramic tile in my 1st floor hall.  Had it all picked out.  I'd doodle my tile job detail during choir practice--underlayment, Ditra, thinset, tile, and all.  Then late last winter I got the depressing news:  A trustworthy tile pro informed me I shouldn't do it unless I tore the whole floor out and sunk a new one between the joists.  For even if I reinforced the springy place in the existing floor I'd still be out of Code with a too-shallow bottom  step.  Feasible, but pricey.

Frankly, I'm out of Code already, thanks to the ½" plywood my previous owners two back slapped down to underlay the ever-so-(un)attractive sheet vinyl they chose.  The bottom riser is that much shorter than the rest even now, and it doesn't bother me.  Would another half inch or so of tile, etc., matter that much?

Test for riser comfort/safety
Late in May I bought one of my chosen tiles at the Big Orange Store, set it on the floor at the bottom of the stairs with some thick cardboard under it to simulate the setting materials, and walked down the stairs a few times.  No.  Ow.  Yep, it would matter.  "Watch that bottom step, Ethel, it's a doozy."

Well, maybe I could pry up the plywood and make something out of the original tongue and groove floor beneath. 

It was no go.  I think the POs-1 didn't merely nail it, they glued it down as well.  And I wasn't up to getting down with the circular saw and cutting it up into little puzzle pieces and heaving them up one by one.  No telling what that'd do to the T&G.  And there'd still be the dried adhesive to deal with.  Hmm, no.

Withal, I've decided, the only thing for it is to fill and sand the plywood (which is a decent, regular, knotless, interior grade) and paint it.  In a faux tile pattern that'll simulate the Gothic Revival tiles I always wanted.  But first, I have to get the vinyl adhesive residue off.

The product in question
Could be worse.  It's only around the perimeter of the L-shaped space and along the verges of the floor heating register.   I rejected trying to sand it off.  Chemical methods should be easier and more economical, I thought.  So I bought a bottle of Henry EasyRelease Adhesive Remover a few weeks ago, and today, I tried it.

Ohhhhhhh, my.  Easy release?  Not so much.  The label says to dilute it 4 to 1 with water, apply it to your dried, hardened glue, then wait one to two hours for the loosening action to work.  I sprayed on the first application around 2:30 PM and according to the instructions renewed it every so often (every twenty to thirty minutes) to keep it wet and working.

After two hours, I went at the (theoretically) softened glue with my 5-in-1.  No joy.  It barely made a dent.  Tried adding more adhesive remover to the bottle to make the mix more like 3 to 1.  Squirted it on and waited another hour or so, reapplying at intervals.

The ordeal begins
By this time it was nearly 5:30 PM.  Upstairs in my bedroom my two younger cats were sequestered behind the closed door, to keep them and their tender paws out of the adhesive remover.  Neither of them was happy to be held captive, and might have been plotting all sorts of dire revenge in the form of poo in the shoes or smelly yellow puddles on the bed.  They had to be sprung as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, the dog, exiled to the back porch, was leaping at the screen door and barking in protest at having to be outdoors without me.  (My oldest cat would stay outside all day and all night if I let her.)  Okay, kids, I'm working as fast as I can!  I went at the old glue again with the 5-in-1, a putty knife (useless) and the paint remover hook.   And went at it, and went at it, and went at it.

Done, barring the gunk hung up on the nailheads
I'm tired, I give up
The old glue started coming up, but it was hard work.  I kept at it steadily but by a few minutes before 8:00 I had less than half the ring of residue removed from the plywood, my knees were hurting, red, and swollen despite the pads I wore, and I was thoroughly fed up.  If this product brings up adhesive residue easily, I'm Mike Holmes' new forewoman.  I had to stop.  Rinsed the application sites with cold water per the directions, including the places I'd sprayed with remover but didn't/couldn't scrape, put everything away, and liberated the captive pets, indoors and out.  Thank goodness the kittens (five-year-old kittens) had controlled themselves.

Still to do, and only part of that

I'll try to get the rest tomorrow.  Pretty tired and disgusted now.  The sander might be an option after all.


Shasha Kidd said...

What a drag. I can't imagine why someone would lay down plywood & vinyl on an old T&G floor unless it was really in bad shape. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Try taking something like an old towel or even newspapers, put them over the adhesive and then wet them down with hot water and allow to set for awhile. After waiting for a time see if the adhesive has softened or even come up. This works for some of the older adhesives that were used back in the 50s or so, so I don't know if it will do anything with newer adhesives but it's worth a try and it's basically free and odorless.